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Where: Corinthian Casino

When: April 29, 2012

What: A Vegas native and a Vegas newbie walk into a bar…

Everywhere, people are gambling. Whether it's the slot machines, green felt topped tables attended to by golden vested dealers overseen by their managers to even a few private rooms where those who wish to divest themselves of significant sums. This is the casino floor of the Corinthian, as decadently appointed as the rest of the casino and it's Feng Shui expert.

Marked off pathways allow for the movement of visitors from one end to the other, who are not old enough to partake of the entertainments offered. Beware should you linger, you might find a dark suit tapping on your shoulder and an impromptu exit. Ladies bearing trays and long legs maneuver around to offer refreshment fetching's for those who are parched. Little camera's cleverly built into here and there provide an eye in the sky for security who see's all.

It's easy to pick out the casino staff or long-time Vegas residents sometimes. They're the ones ignoring the loud noises and blinking lights. They're not enticed by buffets or cheap drinks. Well, maybe. Cheap drinks are enticing in general. Kai is nursing one while he sits at the casino bar. He's just about to light a cigarette, but seems to be thinking twice about it.

If you want the cheap drinks, you get them delivered to you by chicks in short skirts who deliver them for "free" to keep you at your tables and your slots; if you want the good stuff, you mosey to the bar, which is precisely what Finnegan does. He's got one of those buckets full of chips and is looking rather pleased with himself as he slides onto a barstool.

"Talisker, double, no ice," he says, in a Southern drawl. He nods to the other man and reaches for an ashtray closer to him than to Kai, to push into the other man's vicinity. Very helpful. "Craps table was hot, but the dealer changed so time to leave," he adds conversationally.

Kai looks up from his paperwork and gives Finnegan a long, slow smile. He nods towards the casino entrance and turns the cigarette around in his fingers. "I'm not allowed to play the tables. We've got a mutual agreement. I can eat the food, I can buy the cheap drinks, but I can't gamble." He lights his cigarette. "I'm a magician. Close-up magic. Sleight of hand. So I put myself on a voluntary blacklist a few years ago." He flicks his hand. The lighter that was in his hand a moment ago seems to have vanished.

"Huh," says Finnegan, mulling this over and giving the man a card to start his tab. "You mean since you could count cards or have the so called Ace up your sleeve? That makes sense. I'd think maybe they'd want you dealing, the crooks." There's a grin to show he's only (half) kidding.

"So you do a show in this casino, or somewhere else? I'm new in town, myself. Still doing the tourist thing I guess. The lights are still shiny and alluring but I'm sure it'll all fade after a bit." His hand wraps around the Scotch and he brings the glass to his lips for a hearty swallow, eyes crinkling a touch at the burn.

Kai chuckles roughly and rocks his own tumbler of caramel-coloured liquid around on the bar top. "I'm between jobs, right now." He taps the ashes into the conveniently-positioned tray and takes another drag. "New in town? So, not a tourist then?" He exhales smoke, politely away from the other man.

"Not a tourist, just acting like one for a bit, I guess," Finnegan says, then reaches out a hand to the other man. "Jamie Finnegan. Illustrious employee of the … what's the fucking name again… Drunken Semicolon? That ain't it…"

His brow furrows in thought for a moment before he reaches into the back of his dark jeans, finding a matchbook. "Drunken Semaphore!" he says as if he had remembered all on his own. The matchbook is tossed onto the bar.

"Always a classy joint that has the word 'Drunken' in its name," drawls the magician. He shakes and offers, "Kai Goldberg. And I think I like the name Drunken Semicolon better." Dry humour coats his words.

"Well, it'd explain why it's so wishy washy, anyway," agrees Finn with a laugh. "So how long you been here in the ol' LV? Seems fun but like it might only be fun for a time, you know? Kinda like Hollywood."

The whiskey is tossed back again, this time finishing the drink, and he pushes it back to the bar, tapping two fingers in the "hit me" gesture when the bartender catches his eye.

Kai doesn't answer right away. He takes a moment to pull a long drag from his cigarette and follow it up with a sip of his drink. "Born and raised," he answers. "Never been further than Reno. What made you decide to work at a bar in Vegas as opposed to one wherever you're from?"

"From is complicated," Finn says with a chuckle. "From Virginia, but left that behind a long time ago. I've worked bars in LA for a while now. I just needed a clean slate, you know? Some bad shit went down out there, and I needed to get away from the ghosts, so to speak."

He reaches for his refilled drink to take another hard swallow. "I figure it's as good a place as any with plenty of distractions." Enough about him. "You should see more than Nevada, man. It's a wide world."

"If there's one place where no one cares where you're from or what you did before, it's Vegas. It's also a great place to fly under the radar." Kai tips back the rest of his drink. He might be a little buzzed, or he may just be tired. In any case, his movements seem rather lazy. The paperwork in front of him seems to have been forgotten for the moment. "The hard part is when you want to get noticed." He stubs out his cigarette and orders another drink. Bourbon. "Why do I need to go anywhere? There's Venice, Greece, Egypt." A slow smile appears. "I don't know if I could handle the real thing. Monuments not made of plaster. I think I might be disappointed."

"I'd say to get away from the smoke for one thing, but I guess you might not mind that," Finn quips with a grin. "I haven't been to most of those places, either, honestly, but the real New York's a great place. LA has its moments. Boston's a great town, too. Alaska's gorgeous. I have been to Italy. Good wine. Great bread. Hot chicks."

The glass is turned in his hands upon the bar's smooth top as he talks. "I guess since I'm not in show biz, being noticed isn't too big a deal for me. I can see that it would be for you. Maybe you can get a job dealing?" Back to that joke. The House always wins, after all.

"You can't miss what you don't know," says Kai with a shrug. "Besides, I'm a magician. Me going to Alaska'd be like an actor leaving LA for Maine. It's not exactly a mobile profession. Not unless you're a big deal. Or you're willing to do kids' parties. And I'm not really good with the under-18 set." As for dealing, he lifts a shoulder and seems amused by the idea. "I'd be too tempted to do card tricks. Besides, some of the long-term Vegas residents might actually know who I am and kick up a fuss."

Finn chuckles into his drink as he takes another swallow. "Point," he concedes. "So what do you do between jobs to get by?"

He leans back and shakes his head. "Sorry, that's probably nosy of me. I'm just curious. I ain't never met a magician before, you know? And I know what it's like to be between things. You do what it takes."

"I do what it takes," says Kai. It's both a confirmation and an answer to Finn's question. "What's your long-term ambition, then? No one wants to make a career as a bartender."

The word ambition gets a wry snort from Finnegan. "Don't got any. Whatever little I had got dried up a long time ago. I'll leave it to my brothers to be the movers and the shakers in the world. I'll just have me some fun and probably die young. It's all good." The rest of his drink is swallowed down; his eyes glaze just a touch as that one seems to hit the magic spot.

He gestures to the bartender, a little squiggle of an invisible pen in the air. Apparently his tab is only two drinks tonight.

"Come by the Semicolon sometime and I'll give you a better drink on the house, pal," he tells Kai, as the bartender comes back with Finn's card and a receipt to sign.

"Kind of you," says Kai. He lifts his glass in a half-salute. But it doesn't get all the way to his lips before there's a big guy with his hand on his shoulder. Kai tenses, and the guy whispers something in his ear. From the pin on his uniform, the big guy's casino security. "But I'm having a drink, Rudy. We agreed I can drink here, remember?" And then he gets hauled to his feet. Which is a feat, considering he's a pretty tall guy and not exactly a waif. "Sorry. Seems the boss upstairs wants to see me." The man-handling has drawn the attention of passers-by, but the magician seems to be doing his best to retain his dignity.

Finnegan rises when the security pulls Kai to his feet. "You could ask more politely, pal," he tells the other man, then glances at Kai with a raised brow that clearly says 'You want help?' What can he do, really, except make it difficult for security to get away with whatever it is going on?

"I'm all right. It's all right. Rudy just wants an excuse to grope me. Don't get yourself black-listed from this place on my account." Rudy doesn't seem very impressed, but it does make him let go.

Kai straightens himself. "I know the way." Then he turns to go, followed closely by the security guard. His pile of paperwork has been left on the bar top, as well as half his drink.

Finnegan watches the man go, then glances back, picking up his credit card and then glances down at Kai's paperwork, reading whatever's visible. He gives the bartender a two-fingered salute, grabs his bucket and heads to the exchange window to gather his winnings and call it a night.

The paperwork only has a few things written on it, but it appears to be a proposal form for a show. It's got his address, name and phone number on it, but he had only started to write the description of the act.

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